What You Should Know About Diabetes

In the past 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the American population has aged and has struggled with weight. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but healthy lifestyle habits, available medications, diabetes self-management and regular appointments with your health care team can greatly reduce its impact on your life.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which over time can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.

Types of Diabetes

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In the U.S., more than 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that stops your body from making insulin. About 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. There is a greater risk of developing diabetes if you have a family history of the condition.

Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Most people with diabetes—9 in 10—have type 2 diabetes. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults though it is increasingly diagnosed in children. You may notice symptoms like excessive thirst, blurred vision or extreme fatigue however, sometimes symptoms go unnoticed so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Managing Diabetes


Monitor your blood sugar.

Blood glucose monitoring is a critical part of every diabetes management plan. Regular self-monitoring can provide important information on how daily management plans are working to control blood glucose levels. Ask your doctor how often you should test and what your target numbers should be. Benefits of regular self-monitoring include:

Achieving a better understanding of diabetes and how to improve glucose control
Recognizing patterns in blood glucose levels and understanding the cause for changes
Preventing the occurrence of high and low blood glucose levels


Take your medicine as prescribed.

It sounds simple but missing a dose or two can really hurt you in the long run. Those with diabetes are at higher risk for debilitating, costly conditions such as heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney problems and blindness. Taking your medication as prescribed can help protect you from some of the long-term complications of diabetes.


Find out if a statin is right for you.

If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, and taking a cholesterol medication called a statin can help lower your risk. As a diabetic, it’s important to talk about statin therapy with your healthcare provider right away to see if it’s the right choice for you.


Get regular check-ups.

Most people with diabetes should get their cholesterol checked at least once a year. Testing hemoglobin A1C levels is also important for managing your diabetes and may be appropriate twice a year or more to stay in your best health. Ask your doctor about target numbers for both tests.


Communicate with your doctor.

It’s important to talk to your doctor before changing the way you take your medication. Let your doctor know right away if you have side effects or reactions. Tell them if you have been ill or are taking any other medications, even if they are over the counter.


Keep Track.

Keep a personal medication record to help track your usage. Download our helpful medication tracker here: elixir.info/medtracker.


Eat healthy foods and follow a meal plan.

Eating healthy is key to managing your diabetes. You can make simple changes that make a big impact, including:

• Eating smaller portions. Learn what a serving size is for different foods and how many servings you need in a meal.
• Eating less fat. Choose fewer high-fat foods and use less fat for cooking, limiting those high in saturated fats or trans fat, such as fried foods, fatty cuts of meats and sweets.
• Drinking fewer beverages that are high in sugar, such as fruit-flavored drinks, sodas, and tea or coffee sweetened with sugar.
• Focusing on getting more fiber by eating more whole-grain foods, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
• Eating fewer foods that are high in salt, such as canned and packaged soups and vegetables and processed meats.


Exercise and stay active.

Physical activity can help you control your blood glucose, weight and blood pressure, as well as raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol. It can also help prevent heart and blood flow problems, reducing your risk of heart disease and nerve damage, which are often problems for people with diabetes.

• Experts recommend moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes five or more days of the week, such as walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming or bicycling.
If you are not accustomed to physical activity, you may want to start with a little exercise and add a few extra minutes as you get stronger. Do some physical activity every day. It’s better to walk 10 or 20 minutes each day than one hour once a week. Do physical activities you really like. The more fun you have, the more likely you will do it each day.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Living with Diabetes: What Well. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well.html
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Get Active! https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/active.html
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Meet Lance. https://www.trividiahealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/NICO3683_MeetLance_BGM_Ad_TearPad1.pdf
[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). What is Diabetes? https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Diabetes Risk Factors. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html

 *This Newsletter may contain links to other websites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your convenience only. This includes links contained in advertisements, including banner advertisements and sponsored links. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and we accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them. If you decide to access any of the third party websites linked in this newsletter, you do so entirely at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use for such websites.

S7694_22-7024_enewsletter 2022_C Reviewed 08/09/22

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 866-250-2005. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 866-250-2005 (TTY: 711).

Elixir Insurance, 8921 Canyon Falls Blvd., Suite 100, Twinsburg, OH 44087, United States

Topics: Healthy Choices, Helpful Tips

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